UoL Library Blog

Develop, debate, innovate.

Libraries of the Future dissected

Posted by gazjjohnson on 23 July, 2009

Watching the recently released JISC Libraries of the Future video.  Some reactions and thoughts, with time stamps so you can jump to the right point.

  • 00:20 Long intro for a 9 min video
  • 00:32 Indeed, the physical space of the library isn’t the be-all and end all anymore.  Nor has it been to be honest all the years I’ve been a professional.
  • 00:45 Who are these people?  On screen names might have been a good idea – most of these talking heads haven’t got immediate recognition factor (I know if I’d been on there no one would know I was without a caption!)
  • 01:12  First mention of Google.  Is this the library of the future?  These two guys I will say are pretty typical of most of my students.
  • 01:25 Oh that’s who she is, Director of Oxford Libraries. Would have been useful to know earlier.
  • 01:39 Yep, mobile devices are the future (and indeed present) of an increasing number of students accessing information.  How many of our information resources we provide are m-compatible?  Indeed hands up those of you who have access to mobile devices comparable to the students to test them out?  Thought so…
  • 01:50 More clued up information literate student comments.  Uses books too, that’s a shocker – can’t be a scientist.
  • 02:12 Technology as enabler not driver?  I think it’s a bit of both personally.  24/7 global access is real demand, and usually satisfied I’d say.  24/7 support on the other hand…
  • 02:40 Really warming to Sarah Thomas (Oxford).  Never met her, but she seems an insightful individual.
  • 02:53 Oh now you suggest technology is a catalyst for change as well. 
  • 03:00 Technology lets you work smarter, but you have to change to make use of it. Yep, agree, old paradigms just don’t hold in Library 2.0.
  • 03:20 Popular themes for libraries of the future.  First talking head still talking about the library as a physical space, I think less and less that the space will be so crucial.  But that’s only opinion.  But a fair point raised about study space, rather than storage space as a crucial continuing role.
  • 03:58 The library will be like a bee hive?  Filled with workers, and drones thrown out to die when their purpose is through?  Not quite the enabling metaphor I’d have hoped for.  I don’t think bees show excitement, more a work ethic.
  • 04:25 Sounds like the DWL fullfils many of these criteria for a future library, which is quite heartening.
  • 05:06 Libraries as contributors to knowledge base.  Nothing new, this is what we’ve been doing for years, exposing our catalogues, websites and information and making sure the metadata is discoverable.  Certainly the repository is doing this!
  • 05:13 What does the future hold for the librarians?  Early retirement somewhere hot would be nice.
  • 05:29 The old fashioned librarian is a “detail oriented, highly introspective individual”. Erm, not me then, ah but the modern librarian is an entrepreneurial, enthusiastic and more outward looking.  Yeah, that’s me, clearly I’m future proofed.  But what do we do with all the old librarians who don’t meet this specification? Retrain?
  • 05:55 Loss of face to face contact with users.  Sad but true, hence the need to engage with them through other channels.  Blogs, twitter etc.
  • 06.28 Academic image and card catalogue juxtaposed.  Surely no one is using those in academia anymore?
  • 06:39 This video brought to you by JISC and the number 9.
  • 07:12 Libraries need to change the way they work and support learning, teaching and research.  Ah, but many of us are already.  Good to hear about levels of investment from JISC though towards this end.
  • 07:51 The sound track hardly screams modern with its classical violins.
  • 08:16 Global environment, but no mention of potential competitors for library services.  Whither Google University and the like.  I think there are some big sharks out there that we need to be aware of, ready to pounce unless we’re more mobile/adaptable and promoting the real USPs that we libraries and librarians offer to our fee paying users.
  • 08:29 This year long JISC campaign and debate, don’t recall engaging in it myself.  Or is this the start of the debate, discuss!
  • 08:56 Libraries are happening places.  Groovy man.
  • 09:12 Agree, libraries need to act now and plan to meet the future challenges. 

Well that was well worth watching, despite my misgivings at the start.  Quite a bit of food for thought, even if most of the conclusions and points raised were hardly news to me.  So the debate has begun.  But at what level will it happen?  Since all these talking heads were either very senior librarians or students, I didn’t see a lot of input from those of us exploring, experimenting and adapting technologies and techniques.  Then again, I am blogging about this – so maybe I am starting to kick into the debate. 

Okay people – what do you think?

8 Responses to “Libraries of the Future dissected”

  1. sarahw9 said

    This was a a pretty good video, its short and a good introduction to set the scene. Librarians though want engage in the next stage of the debate, for instance we know we need to change the way we support learning, teaching and research, and we are (mostly) trying to find ways of doing this, and yes I agree JISC is helping support this by providing a means to get our heads above the waters of the day to day business. Its the detail of the next stage I want to know about. Read on to more about JISC projects to find out what people are actually doing.

    I suppose the big change is that libraries are no longer predominatly the places that store information (OK repositories and other collections are exceptions), they are the places that support university staff/students find and utilise information. The scene is ever changing and libraries can have a role in supporting students/staff in this and work on innovative ways to improve how people work. Thats pretty vague, then it has to get down to case-by-case examples.

    Back to the space issue – I agree its not ‘crucial’ but the idea of it being a hub where people meet up to work / discuss is a nice idea. Universities are populated by people after all, and their purpose is to engage in intellectual activities, so its not a bad idea to have a physical space away from individual departments that is dedicated to this. Perhaps they can be promoted as places of cross fertilisation. Students still want somewhere to work that isn’t home too.

    All this is sounding familiar thats what we are already trying to do.

    Thats it for now.

    • Shockingly good actually, I’d like to see the rest of the info libs watch it and discuss their reactions and thoughts at the next meeting. Maybe we should suggest that in the run up to it?

      And the repository is just a service that the library runs on behalf of the uni. Data is stored…somewhere in the cloud (well an ITS virtual server – but definitly not on hallowed library ground).

      I think the hub idea has serious legs, universities need social spaces to mingle – but they need spaces that suit different needs. Hence the union as social space to relax and interact, the library as social space to study and explore. Might not suggest cross-fertilisation as it might give some of them the wrong idea.

      It’s the old “library as third place” that’s been around for a while (e.g. not home or work). So that’s a role for the library – but increasingly, what’s the role for the librarian?

      • sarahw9 said

        I think it boils down to thinking about what we are good at and finding places to do it. Getting out of the ‘library’ mindset when thinking about the future of librarians. Otherwise you go around in circles and we need to be thinking laterally and yes, cliche, but innovating ourselves out of a hole before we are put into one.

  2. sarahw9 said

    Getting everyone to discuss the film is not a bad idea at all. It would be interesting to see what people think – we might all be surprised. Also its a conversation we do need to have in the ‘open’ I feel. Lets suggest it.

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